FORT BRAGG, N.C. -
The first-ever All American Marathon and Mike-to-Mike half marathon was held from Fayetteville to Fort Bragg Sunday morning with a big turnout and a festive atmosphere.
According to preliminary results 3,189 people finished the running events, including the All American 5k, which was held entirely on Fort Bragg. Organizers said a total of approximately 3,700 had registered for the three events by Sunday morning. Unofficially 808 runners finished the marathon. 1,730 runners finished the half marathon, and 651 runners finished the 5k. Two athletes also officially competed in the wheelchair division.
Runners passed five parks in downtown Fayetteville, including the North Carolina Veterans Park. At the Airborne and Special Operations Museum they also ran by the Iron Mike statue, an icon of paratroopers.
Then it was up the route’s biggest hill to head toward Fort Bragg.
“The support was awesome,” said Jesly Zambrano, a half-marathon runner. “When you’re running and you see everybody out there supporting you, cheering you on, it was great.”
“At the beginning it was more citizens and then it turned into more soldiers after I was actually on base,” said Jeremy Boyd, a marathon runner.
Once on Fort Bragg, half marathoners finished near a full-sized bronze replica of the Iron Mike stature. The route for the full marathon took runners on a tour of the post.
“At one point there was a plane that took off over my head, which was actually awesome, and I could just hear stuff being fired all day long,” Boyd said. “It was actually an excellent experience.”
John Masson, the first wheelchair finisher, said, “It’s always great to cross the line, but to come across this one for the first one is just really special.”
The end of the marathon wasn’t the end of the event. The finish festival continued for hours as a way for Fort Bragg organizers to welcome the public onto post. Boyd was one of the many people who stuck around after the end of the race. “We were just talking about how nice the finish festival is,” Boyd said. “There’s a lot of things going on, and having Meb [Keflezighi] here, the Boston Marathon champion, that’s also neat as well.
In a truly unique sign of the military presence, paratroopers parachuted into the middle of the festival.
“The airborne landing was absolutely incredible,” Boyd said. “That was a step above the rest.”
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>